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Searching and Evaluating Sources  

Last Updated: Apr 2, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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I can't find any information on my topic in the databases. How can I search more effectively?

Databases are great resources for credible, scholarly information; however, your success with databases all depends on how you use them.  Databases all have features that enable the searcher to select settings that will tailor his/her search to the information they seek.  If you are having trouble locating information on your topic using the databases, watch the video tutorials below, which outline the following techniques:

1) Using Boolean Search Techniques (AND, OR, and NOT)

2) Selecting "full-text" or "peer-reviewed" articles only.

3) Changing a search to make it date-specific.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  Databases have many helpful features that can assist you in the process of gathering information.  Use the information provided to get started, but feel free to explore additional features on your own!


Boolean Search Terms and Advanced Search Technique Video Tutorials:

Tutorial for Boolean Searches

Tutorial for Advanced Searches


How do I know if a website is credible?

Before using a website in your research, work through the following questions to ensure that the source is credible and appropriate for your task.  


  • Who is the author/creator/sponsor?  Are author's credentials listed?


  • Is the purpose to: inform? teach? entertain? enlighten? sell? persuade? 


  • žIf relevant, when was the information gathered or revised?


  • Where does the author get his/her information?
  • žIs there a bibliography?


  • Why is this information relevant for my research task?  

For more detailed information on the process of evaluating web sources, consult the podcast or the linked handout below.


Website Credibility Tutorial:


Royalty Free Resources

If you are using music or images for a project, particularly those which will be published on the internet (i.e. on Prezi, WeVideo, Thinglink, etc.), you must have copyright permission.  

Finding Copyright Free Images in Google Images:

  1. Enter your search terms into Google Images.
  2. Click on "Search Tools" at the top of the page.
  3. Click on "Usage Rights" and choose, "Labeled for noncommercial use with modification" (if you plan on altering the image) or "Labeled for noncommercial use."
  4. Cite your source using the information on its host site.

Websites for Royalty-Free Images: 

Websites for Royalty-Free Music:


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